PRODUCT REVIEW: VALCO BABY SNAP 4. The pram / stroller hybrid.

It’s not always clear what the difference between a pram and a stroller is.

The distinction is traditionally based on the primary purpose of the device being either a carrier for small babies (a pram) or a chair for a small child (a stroller or buggy).

However, more and more brands are creating these hybrid-type carriers that look after a newborn like a pram but which also fit a toddler like a stroller, but are they successful hybrids or should the pram – stroller distinction stick to being clearer?

I’m not sure what the answer is yet, but the Valco Baby range bravely ventures into this hybrid-carrier territory and this is what i’ve found with the Snap 4 model so far:

FEATURE: SIZE AND DIMENSION

From the floor to handle-bar the Valco Baby Snap 4 stands at approximately 104 cm and the seat is approximately 90 cm in length. 

The seat at the narrowest point (the middle) is 40 cm wide and the overall pram is 53 cm wide at the wheels. This pram seat is very generous in dimension so my toddler finally has lots of side room to wriggle around and take his toys everywhere we go.

The basket is generous, deep and wide allowing you to fill it with many groceries or toys – hooray!

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The hood size is exceptional; it’s big when fully opened and neat and small when zipped half close. It’s ideal on wet weather days because it creates shelter on both the front and sides. It is generous and practical – double thumbs-up!

There is a viewing window on top of the hood which rolls up and ties open (no velcro, so no noise to wake a sleeping child!), however, the window is made of mesh like the back of the pram so it does need to be closed on a rainy day.

Finally, a quick scour of the Valco Baby website suggests that all of the Valco Baby prams and strollers are suitable for newborns. However, not all of the Valco Baby prams have detachable seats (the Snap 4 seat does not detach) to offer a backward parent-facing seat arrangement with newborns – also just a handy feature in wet weather. Some of the Valco models do allow for bassinets to be used and some offer adapters for capsules but this is not across the board. 

FEATURE: WEIGHT AND FOLD

With a sore back and heavy toddler I needed a pram which I could comfortably lift into the boot of my car and so far the Valco Snap 4 has been the perfect weight. The Valcobaby Snap range is (self) marketed as “ultra lightweight” and “super easy to fold”, weighing in at just 6.6 kg according to the Valco website.

And yes, you CAN feel the weight difference, the Snap 4 model is very light compared to other prams which typically weigh between 11 to 16 kg.

The simple but smooth folding system also adds to the ease of its use with a basic two-step fold over system (press a button on the side and hold the button on the handlebar) that flips the pram close into neat little parcel which is ideal for small cars.

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There is a permanently attached fabric handle strap to help you lift the folded pram. This may seem obvious but handles are definitely not included in all prams and strollers.

This handle feature really helps with the daily struggle of getting a pram in and out of the car countless times a day!

The only minor downside of this handle strap is that it always hangs across the opening of the pram basket which can get annoying if you are trying to fill the basket in a hurry at the shops! A small clip on the side to lift the handle out of the way would have been a great addition.

FEATURE: FABRIC AND MATERIAL

The Valco Baby Snap 4 is a basic PVC material (think ski jacket material). It’s heavy duty, easy to clean and quick drying when it gets wet – yes it does a fine job but it’s not tweed tailoring.

There is a more deluxe material version available with the Valco Baby Snap Ultra or Tailormade which offers a more chic look. The price of this upgraded fabric version is more than the basic Snap 4 pram (almost double) as to be expected.

The body of the basic Snap 4 range is a black material and the detachable hood comes in a range of 14 colours; we chose the ‘Black Beauty’ body and ‘Cherry’ hood colour (see photos).

The back of the pram is lined with a mesh material which may or may not be an issue depending on the season of where you live. I have personally found the mesh backing to be great feature in summer when children get very hot and sweaty lying in prams, but of course, on a rainy day it may need to be covered up if you wish to keep the seat reclined (however, the organizer bag that hangs over it when it is not rolled up covers most of this back panel for some added wet weather protection).

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FEATURE: WHEELS 

The wheels on the Snap 4 pram are plastic.

The only time that I have found plastic wheels to be an issue was when we traveled with a basic stroller with plastic wheels across cobblestone castles in Europe or on the spontaneous bush walk we once did (tip: never bush walk with a stroller!).

So if you are lucky enough to have to deal with medieval roads on a daily basis or do intensive off road activities regularly go with a pump-up tire model, otherwise, there’s little need to over-think it… plastic wheels are perfectly fine for walking along roads, paths or grass and you will never have to pump-up a flat pram tire.

The ‘Snap 4’ name corresponds to the number of wheels and there is also a ‘Snap 3’ wheeler model available.

ACCESSORIES

There is a bar for the pram so your child has something to hold on to and you can buy a Valco food or drinks tray that clips into the pram (at approximately $29.95 AUSD) which has been great for feeding on the go.

There is a Valco Baby stroller caddy you can purchase but the pram does come with a built-in pocket bag at the back of the seat which can be rolled up so I haven’t felt the need to buy an extra caddy. You can also purchase a basic stroller mesh bag for extra storage.

One thing which would be nice to see is a Valco-specific coffee cup / drinks holder for mum and dad! In the mean time, universal ones usually work fine too.

PRICE

The Valco Baby pram and stroller range starts from about $329 AUSD to about $799 AUSD for the tailormade or duo range. Prices do not include bassinets, adapters for capsule use or skaterboards for toddlers which are additional costs.

What I really like about our snap 4 pram is that it does seem to sit somewhere between a pram and a stroller. It’s really light and suitable for a toddler like a stroller but it is engineered well enough to be compared to a pram – I would go so far as to say that the folding system in particular is engineered better than many more expensive pram brands!

The price point fairly reflects this hybrid type design, costing more than most basic strollers but less than most prams.

CONCLUSION

What made me look at this pram in the first place was the price point. And what made me really like this pram is its lightweight easy to fold design.

Yep, money talks and my back couldn’t take the daily struggle of lifting heavy cumbersome prams anymore!

So style and design features aside, this pram is a reliable, light, easy to use pram that glides nicely and doesn’t feel like your pushing a truck up onto a curbside turn like many other prams do.

Would I like a few more accessory options or stylish features, yes I would, but with a messy active toddler that counts for less these days.

We have had our Valco Baby Snap 4 pram for less than a year and so far we haven’t faced any major design flaws or structural issues. Yes it can happen with any pram or brand, but since I didn’t pay a premium, if something does go wrong then I certainly won’t feel so bad about it.

We also purchased our pram once my son was a toddler so I do not know how it feels and works with a newborn, but as far as the active toddler group over 18 months of age is concerned, it is ideal.

My toddler is comfortable in this pram, he can lie down almost completely flat to sleep and can wriggle about with plenty of room in the seat for his toys. The hood length on this pram is also exceptional and makes for a great rain cover.

For parents of newborns, it is worth exploring the wider range of Valco Baby prams and strollers first to see which models offer extra benefits and features for newborns such as bassinet compatibility and adapters for capsules.

AT A GLANCE: REAL WORLD ISSUES

Is it easy to use? Yes. The folding system is exceptionally easy to use.
The biggest pro? It is really lightweight making lifting, opening and closing really easy to do.
The biggest con? The seat does not detach for a backward parent-facing seat arrangement.

Happy shopping!

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